In December, I had the opportunity to share the Learning Environment Design model with several groups of people, and they gave me some terrific ideas about how to improve it as well as a lot to think about in terms of how it might be applied. From these experiences, I can better appreciate the academic model that encourages scholars to share their work with others and gain benefit from their feedback (even when you want to vehemently disagree with it). Thank you to my colleagues at my primary place of employment, and to the students in a nearby graduate program who also engaged in a lively discussion on the topic.
Here’s what’s going to be changing over the next month or so as I prepare for the model’s big debut at the ISPI conference in April. I’m planning to revise the graphic to better illustrate that application of learning on the job is actually a part of the learning environment as much as it is a part of the performance environment. That hard line was giving folks lots of trouble.
Given some of the commentary I received, I realized that my blunt statements that performance is not a part of the learning professional’s job (see previous posts) led people to conclude that ensuring that people apply learning in a job context is not part of the learning professional’s job (and I believe it is…). There’s this really fine line there, and I think that part of our expertise as learning professionals is to help to bridge that gap between learning and doing. I’m continuing to ponder how to express this well and how to represent it on the graphic, but it makes a lot of sense in my own head anyway.
As learning professionals, our job includes helping people build their cognitive understanding AND helping them to sort out how to apply that learning to their work. We can’t be sure they’ve sorted that out unless we follow them into the work environment and see how they are applying their learning. That’s why the model includes so much about what is available in the work environment to support learning – those supports are not only for building understanding in the first place and learning on the fly, they are also there to help (dare I say it?) transfer learning from the cognitive arena to real work. Using Kirkpatrick language, we need to be sure of level 3 (did learners apply learning on the job?), but not necessarily level 4 (did they achieve business (performance) results?).
More to come on this topic… watch for an update on the graphic in the next few weeks.
It’s a new year, and I, for one, feel like I am taking a real fresh start as one year closes and another begins. Energized and optimistic, I’m turning over a fresh page and sharpening my pencil. For the new year, I wish you the same kind of regeneration. Cheers to 2008!